Organic Consumers Association

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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

San Francisco Boasts Nation's First Mandatory Composting Law

San Francisco already converts over 400 tons of food scraps and other compostable discards into high-grade organic compost every day. It's so nutrient-rich that the final product is almost jet black in color. It's snapped up by farms and vineyards across the Bay Area, we can barely keep up with the demand. By requiring all residents and businesses to compost, we'll increase the amount of "black gold" available for sustainable regional agriculture and improve our environment. When food scraps break down in an oxygen-starved landfill it creates large quantities of methane gas, a greenhouse gas 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide when measured over a 20 year period. It also creates acids that can leach toxins from the landfill.

Composting food scraps produces little to no methane because there is sufficient oxygen in the process. And using the resulting compost reduces greenhouse gases by returning carbon to the soil, increasing plant growth, and reducing emissions associated with chemical fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation. Recent studies show that farming one acre of land using conventional industrial methods releases 3,700 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere each year. Farmed sustainably, with compost and cover crops, that same acre will put 12,000 pounds of carbon back into the earth.

I believe that composting will become second nature for Americans, just like sorting bottles and paper. It will take time, but I believe mandatory composting will spread across the country-improving the air we breathe and reducing our need for landfills.

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